Chapter in:OKAY across Languages: Toward a comparative approach to its use in talk-in-interaction
Edited by Emma Betz, Arnulf Deppermann, Lorenza Mondada and Marja-Leena Sorjonen
[Studies in Language and Social Interaction 34] 2021
► pp. 364–393
Coordination of OKAY, nods, and gaze in claiming understanding and closing topics
Our paper examines how bodily behavior contributes to the local meaning of OKAY. We explore the interplay between OKAY as response to informings and narratives and accompanying multimodal resources in German multi-party interaction. Based on informal and institutional conversations, we describe three different uses of OKAY with falling intonation and the recurrent multimodal patterns that are associated with them and that can be characterized as ‘multimodal gestalts’. We show that: 1. OKAY as a claim to sufficient understanding is typically accompanied by upward nodding; 2. OKAY after change-of-state tokens exhibits a recurrent pattern of up- and downward nodding with distinctive timing; and 3. OKAY closing larger activities is associated with gaze-aversion from the prior speaker.
Keywords: nodding, gaze, multimodal, bodily conduct, object manipulation, understanding, closing, transition, change-of-state token, German